Updated: 20/04/18 : 14:26:20
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More RSS places needed to cater for demand in North West – Mac Sharry

Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry has hit out at the small number Rural Social Scheme places available in the North West, despite a large demand for the programme among low income farmers and fishermen and women.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that only 421 RSS places are available across Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim.  This is an extremely low figure considering the fact that there are more than 1,500 farmers in receipt of Farm Assist payments across the three counties.

“The Rural Social Scheme is an important programme which provides important additional income for low income farmers, while delivering essential work projects in their local communities.  The RSS is extremely popular scheme and there is always huge demand for places, however, it appears as if the government is trying to prioritise its Jobpath programme over these community based schemes”, said Deputy Mac Sharry.

“This year the government allocated a total of 421 RSS places across Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.  Meanwhile, there are 1,107 farmers in receipt of Farm Assist, many of whom would like to secure a place on the RSS, but the places are simply not there.

“For years, Fianna Fáil has called on the government to increase the number of places available on the scheme, and under the Confidence & Supply arrangement we secured additional places last year. However, we need to see those numbers increased again.

“Fine Gael is simply not delivering for rural Ireland.  It now appears that it is trying to push people on to the Jobpath activation scheme, rather than extending current community based programmes, such as the RSS.  Fianna Fáil has brought forward the he Social Welfare (Community Employment) Bill 2018 to ensure that people will be able to take up a place on Community Employment (CE) Scheme, the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) or the Tús Scheme, rather than being forced on to the Jobpath programme.

“We are hoping for cross party support for this legislation, which will protect vital community schemes into the future,” concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.